How to be assertive without being a jerk

By: Oct 18, 2013
How to be assertive without being a jerk

Being assertive doesn't mean you are out to get others, it simply means you are an advocate for yourself.

For many people, being assertive is a huge challenge. For those of us that have a hard time stating our needs, it is important to understand that being assertive does not mean you are out to get others, it simply means you are an advocate for yourself. So is it possible to learn how to be assertive? Yes. Here’s how to do it.

Being Assertive at Work

It can be scary to state your needs during the current economic crisis. Especially if you plan on asking for a raise. Experts say there are three keys to mastering the skill of being assertive:

1. Knowing exactly what you want
2. Believing you have the right to what you want
3. Having the courage to say what you want

Work assertiveness can be tricky because there are probably several others that are jockeying for position as well. Your best bet is to follow the three steps above and ask at the right time. Never spring it on your boss before a stressful meeting and when you do bring up your performance, show with specific examples how you have brought value to the organization.

Being Assertive with Family

It can be very difficult to be assertive with our loved ones because they are often the ones we want to please. So what do you do if your brother is constantly taking advantage of you to watch his kids? Or your older sister is constantly asking you for a loan and never pays it back?

According to psychologists, it’s simple. Just say no. Sure, it might have been a cheesy slogan from the 1980s on how to keep kids off drugs, but there is a lot of power in the word no. So next time your brother asks you to watch his kids for the hundredth straight weekend, take a deep breath, ignore the fear rising up in you, and calmly say, “No, I’m not going to be able to do that.”

If he pushes back, do not apologize, just stick to your guns and repeat back to him, “I’m not able to.” It might continue happening, but never apologize and keep it brief without getting angry. This is an effective technique because your communication is clear, to the point, and is conveyed in a calm manner.

There is also an art to being assertive when discussing sensitive issues. If you are upset about your in-laws constantly feeding your child gluttonous amounts of soda and candy there is an effective way to state that without causing them to be defensive. The solution is to frame your words using “I” statements. Using the word “I” means you are expressing your own needs, which you are entitled to have. “You” statements cast blame on the other party and causes them to be defensive.

 We’d love to hear about how you plan on using these techniques! Comment below.